People mainly think about athletes on the field in discussing matchups, but the biggest storyline for the Allstate Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Kansas State will come down to the coordinators.
Pete Golding, the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator, matches wits against Colin Klein.
As a Kansas State alum, Klein played quarterback for the Wildcats from 2008 to 2012. He started in 2011 and 2012, earning the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Big 12 Athlete of the Year, and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award honors in 2012. Klein totaled 39 touchdowns (23 rushing scores) in his fifth year with the Wildcats, guiding the program to an 11-2 record. He has climbed the coaching ranks with his Alma mater since 2014. Klein started as a graduate assistant and defensive quality control coach. He served as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator in 2017 and 2018. Klein has now been the QBs coach and offensive coordinator since 2019. Kansas State is averaging 33.2 points per game this season, including five matchups with 40+ points. Klein does not have an overly explosive offense, but he possesses playmakers at running back and wide receiver.
Deuce Vaughn, a junior running back, is the engine for Kansas State. The 5-foot-6, 176-pounder has 1,425 rushing yards, 378 receiving yards, and 10 total touchdowns. Adrian Martinez, a backup quarterback for the Wildcats, could play against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He suffered a lower-body injury versus Baylor on Nov. 12; however, he brings athleticism as a dual-threat player.
Martinez leads K-State with 10 rushing touchdowns. Klein has four receiving options — including Vaughn — that have caught at least 40 passes. Malik Knowles (47 catches), Phillip Brooks (41 catches), and Kade Warner (41 catches) all can create separation and make plays. Knowles leads the receiver room with 719 yards. Warner leads the Wildcats in touchdown receptions (five).
Will Howard, a junior quarterback, stands with 1,423 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Golding has been a dynamic recruiter for Alabama, but can he be at his best versus Kansas State? Klein will test the Crimson Tide’s defensive edges with jet sweeps, pop passes, design quarterback runs, and misdirection plays. Alabama needs to have Will Anderson and Dallas Turner sustain the edges against Vaughn and attack Howard. The Tide has struggled against the run and receivers that can quickly get vertical. Golding must be on his A game with schemes, strategies, and calls to have Alabama in the best position to control the game. If Klein has K-State being more physical and in control, it will be a difficult time for the Tide.
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